I was sent this as a birthday gift such a long time ago. I dipped my toe in once and completely failed to appreciate its fabulousness so under the bed it went with a never read magazine about mastering Photoshop, some pyjamas that had fallen down behind the headboard and a million chargers in varying degrees of workingness.
Last week I stumbled across it again whilst having a little Spring clean. I popped on the pyjamas I hadn’t realised I’d missed so much and cajoled my husband into turning off the gadgets and gizmos so we could have ‘quality husband and wife time.’ Read: I want to read this book and I want you to cuddle me whilst I do it, ok? And bring me wine too. NOW. Such a good wife.
Everything Is Illuminated is the story of an American chap who heads to Ukraine with a photo of the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. He’s joined on his search for Augustine by an old chauffeur complete with guide dog (!) and grandson/translator Alex.
Half of the book is written quite normally and follows the history of the Safran Foer family leading up to WWII the other half is narrated by Alex whose English is a little rusty and who uses a thesaurus to improve his vocabulary. It’s really bloody funny which, considering it’s a book about the Holocaust, is no mean feat.
Together they piece together a fantastic story. It took a while to get to grips with the way Alex writes but I really enjoyed having to stop and figure out what he meant; it gave me a minute or two to appreciate the magnitude of the tale he was telling. Not going to tell you any more about that other than it’s as moving and terrifying and unbelievable as most WWII stories tend to be. And is a really different read.
I thought about writing this whole post in the style of Alex…but determined in opposition to it for your sanity.
There’s a movie version. I haven’t seen it but I have a suspicion it might be a little bit shite; not sure how they could get this much awesome into a film. It’s got Elijah Wood in it though which might be a plus. Make sure you read the book before you head off to find out about a big screen version. It’s fantastic.
Have you read it? Did you love it? You can tell me if you didn’t…maybe.